With Wes McCauley announced as one of the officials for Sunday night’s Game 3 between the Toronto Maple Leafs and the Florida Panthers, it’s once again a talking point in the hockey world.
The focus of this discussion is the potential connection and conflict of interest between McCauley and Maple Leafs head coach Sheldon Keefe. McCauley is the brother-in-law of David Frost, a former minor hockey coach and agent for Keefe during his playing days. Frost formed the hockey cult « The Brampton Boys » which included Keefe, and manipulated their behaviors while they progressed into the major junior.
However, Keefe doesn’t think that’s a problem.
“First of all, the officials have no impact on the game. That’s not my goal,” Keefe told the media before Game 3. “Wes has treated me like a true professional since I’ve been in this league and I’m very grateful for that.
Under McCauley’s refereeing, the Leafs are 0-8 in the playoffs, including an 0-4 record in game-wins or going home 7 (or game 5 in the case of their play-off series). in 2020 with the Columbus Blue Jacket). A loss came earlier in the 2023 playoffs when they lost 7-3 in Game 1 of their first-round series to the Tampa Bay Lightning.
However, only half of those games took place while Keefe was the Leafs head coach, while the other half was under Mike Babcock, and the Leafs were also 5-0-1. in the regular season when McCauley was officiating.
There are also a lot of unknowns in Keefe and Frost’s relationship that punch holes in this theory. Most important is what was said about Keefe testifying against Frost during his trial in 2008 for which he was acquitted of four counts of sexual exploitation of young players. However, the tapes of the testimony are sealed, so it is unknown whether or not Keefe testified against Frost or for him. For a deeper dive into Keefe and the Leafs’ relationship with McCauley and Frost, Daily Faceoff’s Matt Larkin took a closer look earlier in the playoffs.
The Leafs are hoping to break that 0-8 playoff record under McCauley’s refereeing on Sunday as they desperately need a win to get back into this series. They are currently down 2-0 to the Panthers after losing Game 1 4-2 and Game 2 3-2 at home, making it a tough hole to come out of.